很久以前，在一个茂密的大森林里，有一座古老的城堡，城堡里住着一个老巫婆。 她白天变成一只猫头鹰到处飞来飞去，有时又变成一只猫在附近四处窜动，晚上她又变回到老太婆。 每当有年青人走进城堡一百步以内，他就会被定下来，一步也不能移动，直到她来才能将他释放；当有漂亮的少女走进这个范围，她们就会被变成鸟儿，然后老巫婆会把她放进一个鸟笼，挂进城堡里的一间房间里。 在这座城堡里已经挂着七百个这样的鸟笼，里面关的全是这种美丽的鸟儿。
当时有一位少女，名叫约丽丹，她长得比人们看到过的任何少女都美丽。 有个叫约雷德尔的牧羊少年非常非常的爱她，她们很快就要结婚了。 有一天，因为想避开人们单独在一起谈心，二人便来到森林里，一边散步，一边交谈。 走着，走着，突然看到前面有座城堡，约雷德尔说："我们得小心一点，不要太走近那座城堡。"夕阳的黄昏是美好的，落日的余辉穿过葱葱郁郁的林梢，洒落在长长的树干上，与绿色的树冠交相辉映。 高高的白桦树上，斑鸠咕咕地叫着，像唱着一首首哀怨的歌。
约丽丹坐在草地上，凝视着落日，约雷德尔在她身边坐了下来。 不知为什么他们感到一阵恐慌、心绪不安，觉得他们好像彼此就要永远分离似的。 他们默默无言地互相依偎着，又走了好一段路，等他们回过头来想寻来路回家时，才发觉他们已经迷路了。
太阳很快就要落山了，有一半已经被远山遮去。 待约雷德尔蓦然回头从树丛中看过去时，才发现他们已在不知不觉中走到了城堡的旧城墙下面，他吓得缩微做一团，脸色苍白 ，身体不停地发抖。 身后约丽丹却唱起歌来：
呜呼！ 咕，咕，咕！ "
唱到这儿，歌声突然停了下来，约雷德尔转过身想看看是怎么回事，却看到约丽丹变成了一只夜莺，她的歌声也变成了悲哀的夜驾叫。 此刻，一只眼睛冒着火焰的猫头鹰围绕着他们飞了三圈，叫了三声"嘟呼！嘟呼！嘟呼！"听到这声音，约雷德尔马上被定住了，他像一块石头一样站在那儿不能哭泣，不能说话，手脚也不能动弹。 这时，太阳已完全消失在天边，黑夜降临了。 那只猫头鹰飞进树林，不一会一个老巫婆走出来了，她那尖瘦的脸上毫无血色，眼睛里闪着阴森的光芒，尖尖的鼻子和下巴几乎快连在一起了。
她咕哝着说了些什么，马上抓住夜莺离去了。 可怜的约雷德尔看见夜莺被抓走了，他能做什么呢？ 他站在那儿根本就不能移动分毫。 过了一会儿那老巫婆又回来了，用嘶哑的声音唱道：
快走吧！ 待在这儿亦枉然！ "
巫婆唱到这里，约雷德尔忽然发现自己又能动弹了，他马上跪在巫婆面前，恳求她放回他心爱的约丽丹。 但巫婆却说，他再也别想见到约丽丹了，说完就离去了。 他祈祷，他哭泣，他伤心，可一切都是徒劳的，他叹道："哎--，我可怎么办呀？"
他没有回到自己的家，而是来到了一个陌生的农庄，受雇为别人牧羊。 他整天想着他的约丽丹，多次到那座可恨的城堡附近绕圈子，希望能救出他的心上人，可又不敢走近。 终于有一天晚上，他梦见自己发现了一株美丽的紫红色花朵，花的中央嵌着一颗闪闪发光的大珍珠，他采下这朵花捧着它走进了城堡；他又梦见凡是用这朵花碰过的每一样东西都从魔法中解脱出来了，他找到了心爱的约丽丹。
当他醒来后，约雷德尔开始翻山越岭漫山遍野地寻找梦中见到的美丽花朵。 他整整找了八天，却一无所获。 第九天清晨他终于找到这朵美丽的紫红色花朵，花儿中间滚动着一颗大大的晨露，就像一颗闪闪发光的大珍珠。
约雷德尔用花碰了碰门，门一下子就弹开了。 看到这情况，他非常高兴，信心顿时倍增。 进了大院后，他听到了许多鸟儿的叫声，仔细听了一会儿，他来到了巫婆待的房子。 房子里有七百个鸟笼，笼子里关的七百只鸟都在啼叫。 巫婆看到约雷德尔时非常愤怒，竟大声咆哮着扑了上来，到了离约雷德尔两米的地方，她却无法再接近他一步，因为他手中的花朵保护着他。 约雷德尔扫视了一下笼子里的鸟儿，哎呀！ 好多鸟笼里都是夜莺，怎样才能找出约丽丹呢？ 正在他想着该怎么办的时候，那老巫婆取下一个鸟笼向门外逃去，他立即向她猛冲过去，用花向那鸟笼碰去。 这一碰，他的约丽丹马上站在了他的面前，她伸出双臂挽住了约雷德尔的脖子。 她看起来还是那么漂亮，还是和在森林里一起散步时那么美丽。
随后，约雷德尔用那紫花碰了其它所有的鸟，她们跟着都恢复了少女的原貌。 她们一起向他道谢。 与她们一一告别后，约雷德尔带着他亲爱的约丽丹回到了自己离开已久的家，他们结婚后在一起过着幸福的生活。
There was once an old castle in the midst of a large and thick forest, and in it an old woman who was a witch dwelt all alone. In the day-time she changed herself into a cat or a screech-owl, but in the evening she took her proper shape again as a human being. She could lure wild beasts and birds to her, and then she killed and boiled and roasted them. If any one came within one hundred paces of the castle he was obliged to stand still, and could not stir from the place until she bade him be free. But whenever an innocent maiden came within this circle, she changed her into a bird, and shut her up in a wicker-work cage, and carried the cage into a room in the castle. She had about seven thousand cages of rare birds in the castle.
Now, there was once a maiden who was called Jorinda, who was fairer than all other girls. She and a handsome youth named Joringel had promised to marry each other. They were still in the days of betrothal, and their greatest happiness was being together. One day in order that they might be able to talk together in quiet they went for a walk in the forest. "Take care," said Joringel, "that you do not go too near the castle."
It was a beautiful evening; the sun shone brightly between the trunks of the trees into the dark green of the forest, and the turtle-doves sang mournfully upon the young boughs of the birch-trees.
Jorinda wept now and then: she sat down in the sunshine and was sorrowful. Joringel was sorrowful too; they were as sad as if they were about to die. Then they looked around them, and were quite at a loss, for they did not know by which way they should go home. The sun was still half above the mountain and half set.
Joringel looked through the bushes, and saw the old walls of the castle close at hand. He was horror-stricken and filled with deadly fear. Jorinda was singing,
"My little bird, with the necklace red,
Sings sorrow, sorrow, sorrow,
He sings that the dove must soon be dead,
Sings sorrow, sor -- jug, jug, jug."
Joringel looked for Jorinda. She was changed into a nightingale, and sang, "jug, jug, jug." A screech-owl with glowing eyes flew three times round about her, and three times cried, "to-whoo, to-whoo, to-whoo!"
Joringel could not move: he stood there like a stone, and could neither weep nor speak, nor move hand or foot.
The sun had now set. The owl flew into the thicket, and directly afterwards there came out of it a crooked old woman, yellow and lean, with large red eyes and a hooked nose, the point of which reached to her chin. She muttered to herself, caught the nightingale, and took it away in her hand.
Joringel could neither speak nor move from the spot; the nightingale was gone. At last the woman came back, and said in a hollow voice, "Greet thee, Zachiel. If the moon shines on the cage, Zachiel, let him loose at once." Then Joringel was freed. He fell on his knees before the woman and begged that she would give him back his Jorinda, but she said that he should never have her again, and went away. He called, he wept, he lamented, but all in vain,"Ah, what is to become of me?"
Joringel went away, and at last came to a strange village; there he kept sheep for a long time. He often walked round and round the castle, but not too near to it. At last he dreamt one night that he found a blood-red flower, in the middle of which was a beautiful large pearl; that he picked the flower and went with it to the castle, and that everything he touched with the flower was freed from enchantment; he also dreamt that by means of it he recovered his Jorinda.
In the morning, when he awoke, he began to seek over hill and dale if he could find such a flower. He sought until the ninth day, and then, early in the morning, he found the blood-red flower. In the middle of it there was a large dew-drop, as big as the finest pearl.
Day and night he journeyed with this flower to the castle. When he was within a hundred paces of it he was not held fast, but walked on to the door. Joringel was full of joy; he touched the door with the flower, and it sprang open. He walked in through the courtyard, and listened for the sound of the birds. At last he heard it. He went on and found the room from whence it came, and there the witch was feeding the birds in the seven thousand cages.
When she saw Joringel she was angry, very angry, and scolded and spat poison and gall at him, but she could not come within two paces of him. He did not take any notice of her, but went and looked at the cages with the birds; but there were many hundred nightingales, how was he to find his Jorinda again?
Just then he saw the old woman quietly take away a cage with a bird in it, and go towards the door.
Swiftly he sprang towards her, touched the cage with the flower, and also the old woman. She could now no longer bewitch any one; and Jorinda was standing there, clasping him round the neck, and she was as beautiful as ever!